Learnings and insights on integrated action planning for urban climate resilience

The second plenary session of Resilient Cities Asia Pacific 2019 delved into looking at the outcomes and learnings from the CapaCITIES (Capacity Building Project on Low Carbon and Climate Resilient City Development in India) Project supported by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The session gathered key city representatives from Coimbatore, Rajkot, Siliguri, and Udaipur. Marylaure Crettaz, Head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for India, served as a speaker at the session along with Anand Iyer, Chief Project Manager, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) who is representing Suneet Mehta, Deputy Secretary (International Cooperation and AMRUT), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.

The session provided an overview of the CapaCITIES project, explaining that this initiative aims to strengthen the capacities of cities to identify, plan, and implement measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for enhancing resilience. It built the capacity of the local governments of Coimbatore, Rajkot, Siliguri, and Udaipur to support them in planning and implementing mitigation and adaptation measures.

Asok Bhattacharya, Mayor, Siliguri, India shared that under CapaCITIES project, their city implemented the ClimateResilientCITIES Action Plan Methodology (CRCAP), a tool which enables local governments to analyze, act, and accelerate strategies and programs to promote low emission development and resilience. Mr. Bhattacharya noted that CRCAP has yielded extensive solutions for fragile sectors in Siliguri which when implemented can reduce GHG emissions by 14.6%. Noting the importance of citizen engagement, he said, “For CRCAP to be a realistic approach, it is imperative that increased people’s participation, environmental governance, and democratic decentralization be promoted.”

Meanwhile, Executive Engineer of Coimbatore K Sarvanakumar shared that their city is prioritizing integrated solid waste management at the moment. He shared that a lasting system has been set up in Coimbatore to ensure that waste is properly disposed and recycled if applicable. He also talked about their mechanisms to process and recycle electric waste.

Chetan Nandani, Deputy Commissioner, Rajkot Municipal Corporation shared that transport is a priority sector for his city. “For sustainable transport, Rajkot is working to make the transition to electric buses from diesel-powered ones. As of now, the city has 4 of these e-buses,” Mr. Nandani said.

Additional Chief Engineer of Udaipur Smart City Ltd Arun Vyas, noted that their participation in CapaCITIES Project enabled them to conduct a pre-feasibility technical analysis to determine the impacts and challenges that will surface along with the closure of their existing dumpsite. Through the project, they have also realized the need for awareness-raising, especially at the community level. “CapaCITIES has taught us how to achieve segregation of waste and the importance of IEC activities in achieving the same,” Mr. Vyas stated.

Stressing the importance of city-to-city cooperation and vertical integration, Marylaure Crettaz of SDC invited local governments to look beyond their boundaries and strive for collaboration with other sectors including the academe, national government agencies, private sector, and the communities.

Taking the discussion from the country to the region, the session requested interventions from representatives from Sri Lanka and Bhutan about their initiatives on climate action. Focusing on the contribution of the transport sector in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Planning Officer of the Transport Development Division, Road Safety and Transport Authority of the Ministry of Information and Communications from Bhutan, Leki Choda noted that Bhutan has started to promote e-vehicles as an eco-friendly and climate resilient option to move towards sustainable transport. He also shared that Bhutan has earmarked a budget of at least 900 million Ngultrum (USD 13 million) as an investment to e-vehicle technologies and solutions.

“The surface transport services in Bhutan is going to focus more on coming up with strategic green transport planning in the next five years plan to contribute towards climate resilient cities and foster development in the context of climate change,” Mr. Choda stated.

This project-specific discussion with Indian cities was then followed with a broader discussion to bring up the resilient urban planning and solutions from other cities around the region and the globe. A second panel was organized in the session gathering key representatives from cities, non-government organizations and the private sector moderated by Hans-Peter Egler, Project Director of South Pole, Switzerland.

Sharing insights and learnings from Swiss cities, Reto Dettli from econcept Switzerland noted that there are similarities between how cities in South Asia and Switzerland approach climate resilience. However, there is a slight difference because, in Zurich, citizens actually take a public vote on setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. To this end, Mr. Dettli recommended promoting coherence and collaboration in approaching climate-related challenges and issues at the local level.

K.P Pravinjith, Managing Director of Ecoparadigm shared that in Coimbatore, they have set up technologies for waste-to-energy to promote innovative solid waste management. Similarly, in Rajkot, they have put together a decentralized system for treating sewage from slums.

Circling back to the discussion about the CapaCITIES project and its successful strategy in building capacities of the participating cities, Martin Buck, CEO of SNZ Consulting, noted, “CapaCITIES approach in the transportation sector is very promising and effective. It enables the cities to focus on urban transportation identified as a priority sector for GHG emissions reduction.”

Chief Project Manager of National Institute of Urban Affairs Anand Iyer and Executive Director of Water and Livelihood Foundation Rammohan Ramachandrula also served as panelists during this session.

Highlighting public participation as a crucial tool in forwarding local climate action: a discussion on citizen engagement by city representatives, experts, and stakeholders

Every failure is an opportunity to learn how to do better is a sentiment that underscored the discussion in Plenary 3 of RCAP 2019. The session focused on sharing stories on good urban governance mechanisms to improve climate resilience. In this session, the critical role of public participation was discussed with reference to a range of Indian projects under the PROMISE project, which examined community engagement across four projects in public urban spaces, residential waste, sewerage management, and urban mobility.

Shouvik Datta, Senior Programme Manager, Delegation of the European Union to India talked about European Union's (EU) long history of support and cooperation with local governments in forwarding sustainable and inclusive development.

The session, which was facilitated by ICLEI Deputy Secretary-General and Executive Director of South Asia Emani Kumar, was marked with the inaugural launch of the PROMISE Website and Tool, a framework for the implementation of municipal-level projects supporting inclusive public participation. Ashish Rao Ghorpade, Deputy Director of ICLEI South Asia invited everyone to access the website and learn more about the PROMISE initiative.

Following the introduction of the PROMISE project, the audience heard from a panel of municipal government representatives and technical experts involved in the project. The municipalities told encouraging stories of their experience with the participatory approach, while the experts gave global perspectives from their experience beyond India. The benefits of the PROMISE project will not cease with the end of the project itself but will be shared, scaled and replicated on the back of the launch of the PROMISE tool and website.

In the panel discussion, moderated by Panagiotis Karamanos, Team Leader, International Urban Cooperation, India, two main challenges to public participation came to the fore. The first was how to facilitate inclusive and representative public participation so that a diversity of voices and interests are heard. Ms. Kalapana Vishwanath, Co-Founder and CEO of Safetipin, emphasized that special effort needs to be made to reach vulnerable and under-represented groups, including the urban poor, women, and children. Ms. Vishwanath also emphasized that public participation could leverage technology, especially in larger cities, to engage efficiently a diversity of communities. For delegates, the key takeaway from the session was that even though public participation in municipal projects will take effort and throw up challenges, there are indisputable benefits for long-term success.

The session also featured insights from the following panelists: Dheeraj Kumar, Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Karnal, India; Chandresh Sankhla, Ward Councilor of Ajmer Municipal Corporation; Sambhav Ayachi, Assistant Commissioner of Jabalpur Municipal Corporation; Jyoti Mhapsekar, President of Stree Mukti Sanghtana; Kalapana Vishwanath, Co-Founder and CEO of Safetipin, India; Faiyaz Khudsar, Scientist-in-Charge of Yamuna Biodiversity Park; V. Srinvas Chary, Director of Administrative Staff College of India, and Kazunobu Onogawa, CCET, IGES-UNEP, Japan.

Addressing urban biodiversity and its role in urban climate resilience

The Nature Based Adaptation Solutions session focused on the efforts and initiatives being implemented in various cities and city-regions on nature-based solutions to build urban resilience and addressed questions such as how alternative approaches to infrastructure development, e.g. nature-based solutions, contribute towards both improved service delivery and building urban resilience, how existing institutional tools and processes (e.g. EIA) can be adapted to integrate biodiversity into urban design and plans and how a strong investment case can be built to mainstream biodiversity into urban infrastructure development.

Modifying and managing existing ecosystems to better deliver ecosystem services was a core message discussed at the session.

It was also noted that articulating the connections between nature and economy, between urban and rural, and building awareness about this will help citizens and businesses act in ecologically and economically beneficial manners.

“On the 5th November 2017 there was a major disaster of a flood where we received one month's worth rainfall in six hours. It was also a blessing because we learned a lesson which is the need to be resilient. To overcome this we took a pledge that every department in the city will outline 10 strategic priorities which will help us to systematically achieve our vision of building a climate resilient city,” said Norzila Binti Abdullah, Mayor of Seberang Perai Municipal Council, Malaysia.

Focusing on cities, C Rajan, Director, Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development, Kochi Municipal Corporation, India, said, “Conserving urban biodiversity is of utmost importance for Kochi especially in the context of climate change. Kochi Municipal Corporation is strongly espousing this cause and has been doing everything possible to preserve Kochi's rich but fragile ecosystems along with its biodiversity. We solicit support from national and international organizations for our efforts to save our ecosystem for posterity.”

Ingrid Coetzee, Senior Manager, ICLEI Africa Secretariat, presented the Cities With Nature initiative explaining that it is a platform to make it easy to help and support cities.

“Cities need tools to make arguments for investment in urban nature. Spatialising ecosystem services provides an inspiring and tangible mechanism to simulate appreciation and motivation for the benefits of urban nature,” said Ernita Flynn, Senior Professional Officer, ICLEI Africa Secretariat.

The session was moderated by Sunandan Tiwari, Senior Program Manager, Global Projects, ICLEI World Secretariat. The speakers were: Battulga Erkhembayar, Ulaanbaatar Environmental Department, Ulaanbaatar; Ingrid Coetzee, Senior Manager, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Centre, ICLEI Africa Secretariat; Konrad Uebelhör, Director, Indo-German Biodiversity Programme, GIZ GmbH; C. Rajan Director, Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development, Kochi Municipal Corporation.

The panel included: Ernita Flynn (van Wyk), Senior Professional Officer, ICLEI Africa Secretariat; Katia Fenyves, Project Officer, ICLEI South America; Pradip Sarmokadam, Member Secretary, Goa State Biodiversity Board; V Krishna, Additional Commissioner, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, India; Nand Kishore Agrawal, Programme Coordinator, Adaptation and Resilience Building, ICIMOD, Nepal; Rohit Mangotra, Integrated Research and Action for Development, India; Alok Singh, Director, Horticulture, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, India.

City representatives, academics, and experts discuss mainstreaming sustainable urban development through an integrated resource management approach

The parallel session highlighted lessons and insights from the implementation of the Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities: The Urban Nexus. The project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is implemented by GIZ in cooperation with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The Urban Nexus project applies a multi-level and multi-sectoral approach supporting twelve cities in seven countries in Asia including China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Ms. Ruth Erlbeck, Project Director of the Urban Nexus served as the facilitator and moderator of the session.

Providing a background of SDG implementation in India, Mr.  James Matthew, Deputy Director General of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change reported that the ministry has developed a national SDG Index. The framework, released in December 2018, covers more than 300 indicators to measure SDG implementation at various levels. Mr. Matthew noted that SDGs can be further mainstreamed at the local level through consultations and collaborations with national government agencies and through a detailed analysis of a city’s challenges, pressures, and priority sectors.

Meanwhile, Dr. Richard Cordial, President of Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology (BISCAST) shared that as a meso-level partner of the project, they were able to develop, elaborate, and disseminate the Nexus concept and apply learnings to practical and applicable technologies. Through the Nexus project, BISCAST is implementing a pilot project on developing a climate-resilient house and has also developed and offered tertiary courses on the nexus of water, energy, and the built environment.

Advocating for integrated, collaborative solutions, Dr. Cordial stated, “We can not breakdown silos. We have to be connected and grouped; strive to work together and put our collective minds toward solving problems.”

Further, Ms. Nanda Jickar, the Mayor of Nagpur India, reiterated the central role that women play in promoting integrated resource management and as key actors in local climate action. She shared information on the industrial hub in Nagpur which serves as an area for providing capacity building activities for women while at the same time acting as a platform for self-help groups. Ms. Jickar believes that women are pioneers of this society as they play a major role in waste segregation and ultimately how resources are allocated, disposed, and recycled.

“We believe that the country can only progress if the women can come forward,” she stated.

Bringing the discussion to the issue of finance, Economic Affairs Officer of UNESCAP, Omar Siddique underscored that access to financial resources is a prerequisite of successful project implementation. Local governments may look into two financial instruments: public-private partnership and the land-value capture which can be more relevant for secondary cities.

Lastly, Mr. Sunil Dhapte, Director of YASHADA, an administrative training institute, highlighted the importance of building the capacities of local governments in developing and implementing strategies to address issues of sustainability and urban development.

Participants were then given the opportunity to discuss key issues of integrated resource management through a breakout group session. Four groups worked together to exchange ideas and insights regarding localizing global agenda in practice, opportunities to strengthen vertical and horizontal integration, challenges and best practices of integrated resource management in cities, and the role of academe/training institutes in institutionalizing the nexus approach.

Experts discuss solutions for climate adaptive water management

A session on Climate Adaptive Water Management was organised by ICLEI with support from the International Development Research Centre on the second day of the 4th Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Congress 2019.

This session presented advanced understanding on the impacts of climate and human development on sustainability of water resources.

It focused on climate induced challenges to water resource management and collaborative approaches for integrated water management, socio-economic, demand-led strategies for managing water withdrawals for various uses, decision support tools and management framework for integrated water management, role of climate modeling in water resource management, models and framework for innovative financial opportunities supporting circular economy.

Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Senior Programme Coordinator, ICLEI South Asia introduced the IAdapt framework as an integrated rural urban water management for climate-based adaptation in Indian cities.

Ms. Sadhukhan explained how as part of IAdapt framework, a RURBAN platform has been formulated as a cross-sectoral network and participatory decision-making platform including both rural and urban stakeholders on water management.

Talking about way forward, she said, “Legal and regulatory policies to further facilitate urban and rural partnership is required.”

Ansu Alexander, Consultant, Athena Infonomics Pvt. Ltd, India, further clarified on RURBAN platform and its four components supporting decision makers which are DST, capacity building, catchment management plan and compendium of financing sources.

Talking further about solutions, Crispino Lobo, Co-Founder, Watershed Organization Trust, India, raised a pertinent point on involving citizens. He said, "We need to move to water use efficiency. Need to bring in advanced level of applied science and involve local communities so that communities understand how to manage and regulate water use.”

Katherine Muller, San Fernando City, La Union, Philippines presented some of the work being done by their city on water resource management, including rain water harvesting and improvement of sanitation.

Nand Kishore Agrawal from ICIMOD, Nepal pointed out the challenges being faced by almost 13 billion people in Asian countries, because of the climate change impacts on the water resources that are emerging from the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.

The session was moderated by Shiraz Wajih, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, India and the panel included: Katherine Muller, San Fernando City, La Union, Philippines; Nand Kishore Agrawal, ICIMOD; Crispino Lobo, Watershed Organization Trust; Veena Khanduri, India Water Partnership; Trimbak Dhengale Patil, Deputy Commissioner, Solapur Municipal Corporation, India. The presenters for the session were: Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, ICLEI South Asia, Ansu Alexander, Athena Infonomics Pvt.Ltd; S. Mohan, IIT Madras; Avinandan Taron, International Water Management Institute.

Peer Exchange on Finance and Investable Climate Action Planning

On behalf of the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities Resource Team, ICLEI organized the session Peer Change on Finance and Investable Climate Action Planning as part of the Resilient Cities Asia Pacific 2019. The session was supported by the Resource Team comprised by World Resource Institute, C40 and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.

The Global Platform for Sustainable Cities is a platform that supports cities by providing high-level technical assistance on urban resilience planning and actions.

Maryke van Staden, Manager of Low Emission Development Pathway, ICLEI World Secretariat, shared some key messages from the 2nd High-level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance:

  • Public climate finance has increased, yet adaptation finance represents only a small share;
  • Comprehensive approaches and development of adequate metrics for the measure of adaptation across sectors, as well as the strengthening of local capacity to carry out adaptation projects are prerequisites to adaptation financing;
  • Enhanced transparency of support and emerging mandatory and voluntary climate-related financial disclosures are important;
  • Ministers of finance play an important role via country-driven budgetary and fiscal policies; and
  • There is need for overarching dialogue involving multilateral stakeholders.
  • Climate finance flows should be tracked regularly to accurately measure impact.

Cities face huge financing gaps due to lack of capital, high local interest rates, and overemphasis on large-scale projects.

Rohit Sen from Bettervest presented the crowdfunding business model, which has been successfully used in 79 projects with impacts across 18 countries, as a new possibility for climate action planning at the sub-national level. The model allows individuals making joint small investments in projects, and receives product samples and/or financial returns.

Ulka Kalaskar, Chief Accounts Officer, Pune Municipal Corporation, India and Tikendar Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla Municipal Corporation, India shared their insights from a city perspective.

Dr. Virinder Sharma, Senior Urban Development Specialist of the Asian Development Bank shared the main points on climate related bankable projects. He suggested local governments to move beyond showcasing “cosmetic” projects with clear visions and plans, and ensure climate projections are embedded and reflected urban infrastructure designs.

The second part of the peer-to-peer exchange workshop of the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) brought together representatives from GPSC cities in Asia like Vijayawada, Jaipur, Mysore, and Melaka, including Alor Gajah Municipality and Hang Tuah Jaya Municipality. It helped to share their local sustainable urban planning practices to developing climate-related bankable projects.

The aim of the session was to present and explore relevant developments on accessing finance, share experiences and exchange lessons learned. The city representatives and financial experts came under roof to discuss access to climate finance.

During the session, Ranjith Kumar, Assistant Executive Engineer of Mysore Municipal Corporation shared innovative projects implemented in Mysore including zero waste management system, compost processing units, smart metering and photo billing for water supply and so on.

Talking about the challenges, Koneru Sreedhar, Mayor of Vijawada Municipal Corporation said, “The main challenge for our city is to access financing but we are exploring public-private partnerships as a means for resource mobilization.”

Ulka Kalaskar, Chief Accounts Officer of the Pune Municipal Corporation, discussed Pune’s experience with municipal bonds to fund a water supply project. As Pune was the first city in India to use municipal bonds, Kalaskarprovided guidance on how to improve a city’s creditworthiness to become eligible for municipal bonds as well as the challenges Pune faced throughout this process.

The core messages from the session were that there should be strong strategies backed by sustainable financial model along with legal and institutional set up and projects should be started at pilot levels and if successful, then they can be replicated and scaled up.

While sharing best practices, Rajiv Garg, Chief Engineer, Jaipur Municipal Corporation, shared the biogas technology in Jaipur, describing it as a cheap energy source and an effective way to manage waste.

Participants also formed into small groups to have further discussions on their challenges and solutions on finance and investable climate action planning.